OAKLAND -- The A's defense betrayed them on Saturday afternoon, largely contributing to an 8-3 loss at the hands of the Angels, who have claimed two of the first three matchups of this four-game opening set at the Coliseum.Right-hander Daniel Mengden had to shoulder the load, pitching better than his
OAKLAND -- The A's defense betrayed them on Saturday afternoon, largely contributing to an 8-3 loss at the hands of the Angels, who have claimed two of the first three matchups of this four-game opening set at the Coliseum.
Right-hander Daniel Mengden had to shoulder the load, pitching better than his final line would indicate: six runs (five earned) in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five and issued his lone walk in the sixth; A's starters began the season going 18 1/3 innings without a free pass.
Mengden's efforts were overshadowed by misplays behind him, though, and he was forced to work overtime.
"That's not what we're expecting," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Hopefully we put that one away, because obviously the defense got a lot better as the game went along, but Mengden didn't deserve the fate that he got.
"I thought he threw the ball pretty well. He pitched well enough to keep us in the game and potentially win it, we just didn't support him enough."
Tweener line drives, like the one that eluded left fielder Matt Joyce on a critical play in the ninth inning of Friday's loss, continued to haunt the A's: Stephen Piscotty and Khris Davis both had similar issues with them, giving the Angels more help than they needed.
They already have Michael Trout, who enjoyed a three-hit day and drove in two runs behind right-hander Matthew Shoemaker.
"I can only control what I can control, and that's executing and making pitches," Mengden said. "We all want to play well all the way around. I know some of the guys wish they made better plays, and I wish I made better pitches, but that's baseball."
The A's were shut out for five innings before waking up in the sixth, loading the bases and getting a two-out, two-run single from Piscotty to force Shoemaker out of the game. Matt Chapman knocked an RBI double against righty Cam Bedrosian, but Boog Powell struck out to end the threat.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A's defense crumbles: The Angels received significant aid in their two-run third inning, which began with a Rene Rivera line drive that got past left fielder Davis for a double.
Mengden buckled down and struck out Zack Cozart, and he nearly retired Trout via the strikeout, too, except catcher Bruce Maxwell struggled to block a swinging third strike and Trout reached first to put runners at the corners. Mengden was on the verge of escaping the mess unscathed, but shortstop Marcus Semien bobbled a potential inning-ending double-play ball while a run scored, and Jose Pujols followed with an RBI single.
"I was just late. That's all on me," Maxwell said of his mishaps, resulting in three wild pitches. "It's unacceptable. Put us in tough situations, and they capitalized on it. Made the game a little further out of reach than it should have been. It's very frustrating, especially when it's due to my part. It's something that we work on every day."
Critical K: Down 7-3, the A's threatened with two outs in the seventh, loading the bases for young slugger Matt Olson, who clubbed 24 home runs in 59 games as a rookie last year. But Olson, who homered on Opening Day, would be denied a game-tying grand slam, instead handcuffed by right-hander Jim Johnson. Olson fouled off a 2-2 fastball before staring down a called third strike on the outside corner.
"We're one swing away from tying it," Melvin said. "It was good that we battled back. Sitting at a 7-0 deficit and continued to fight back is the attribute you want to see. We just dug ourselves too big a hole."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mengden is 0-9 with a 6.57 ERA in 12 career starts at the Coliseum, marking the longest career-opening home skid by an A's pitcher since Bobby Hasty's 11-game streak from Sept. 11, 1919 to Aug. 11, 1921.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Cozart, who tripled on a ball that skipped past right fielder Piscotty and scored on Trout's ensuing double in the first, was at the plate with two outs and two on in the sixth, when Jefry Marte found himself caught between second and third. Marte was initially ruled out on a throw at third base, but replay officials overturned the ruling to keep the inning going, and Cozart responded with a two-run double. Trout's RBI single capped the three-run inning.
Athletics: Right-hander Daniel Gossett will be on the mound at 1:05 p.m. PT on Sunday when the A's close out this four-game series against the Angels in Shohei Ohtani's pitching debut. Gossett went 4-11 with a 6.11 ERA in 18 starts over two stints as a rookie with the A's last season.
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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.